Saturday, August 6, 2016

Aprons


Week 10 is here for our CSA, and the "dog days of
This week's shares contain:
Basil, Yellow Squash, tomatoes,
New Potatoes, & Red Summer Crisp
Lettuce
summer" are in full swing. Google defines these sultry days as, "marked by lethargy and inactivity". Here on the farm we are busy busy, so any inactivity occurs only in our minds! 


The guys have been planting row upon row of seeds for fall crops. (See a great picture of Isaac seeding over 2 miles of crops on our Facebook page.) I love the fall harvests the best. It's the only time of year I get the tender spring crops mixed with my favorite summer vegetables. The almost daily showers have sure been a blessing to help grow them. I'm praising God again for His "showers of blessing"!

Destany is Isaac's new wife and is his helper at Market Square Farmer's Market
in downtown Knoxville.
 I want to thank my daughters-in-love that work alongside their husbands and our family packing and selling at markets. They are a big blessing to us all!
Allison is Adam's wife and is his helper at New Harvest Park and Franklin Farmer's Market.

I've added a "gadget" to the sidebar of this blog.
Luke is really growing up
and is a great help
on the farm this year!
Thanks for all your
hard work son!
There I can highlight an old post that may have a recipe you can use with the vegetables that are in your shares this week, or a word of encouragement that may help you. As I was looking back at my old posts, one stood out to me that I wanted to repost here. The message is still needed today in every home in America. So I've fixed my atrocious spelling and updated the recipes a bit for today. I pray it's an encouragement to you or your wife. Share it with anyone you think that could use a bit of     encouragement in their calling.


Farmer Steve and Daddy to the crew is a great example of
serving to us all. I want to thank him for his example and hard
work!


August 2011

Greetings from our mountain farm! I've been contemplating what to write to you this week...when after a busy day of baking the bread shares and packing vegetables it hit me! I love it when the Lord directs in answer to prayer! This is how it happened...

Life in a packing shed after a long day of picking and packing usually ends with everyone being jolly and jostling for a position in line packing shares. Yesterday (Friday) it was packing tomatoes...there were about 160 quart cups lined up on tables to be filled with tomatoes that had JUST been picked. Several of us had flats of ripe tomatoes (not green and gassed) and were filling the cups "until they looked good". To me, pretty looked good...to the boys big looked good. Hmmm, well, the flats fit under the men's arms better than mine so I was balancing mine on the edge of the table and knocking the empty cups on the far back of the table off on the ground. It was some "handsome" son's job to pick them up....then I had to have someone with longer arms fill the last two cups on the far side of the table. (None of my children have inherited my "petite" genes...so whoever is closest at the time is called handsome and asked to pick up the fallen empty cups. They "melt" when they are called handsome, and are ready to do what I need done. I hope none of them read this and catch on!) After being alone in the packing shed most of the day it was a sweet blessing to be joined by 7 of my sons to finish up the work.

When the tomatoes were taken care of and the last of the thyme was bundled they begged me to begin supper...it was 7 p.m., and they were having hunger pains. I was ready too after packing potatoes, onions, yellow/zucchini/patty pan squashes, green beans, thyme, and tomatoes I was ready to retreat to the hominess of the farm kitchen. I had been wearing an apron made from the skirt of an old jumper which protects my clothes from the mud, water, and blossom ends of vegetables when as I scooped it up, my post idea came! As I held out my ample apron I had different boys scoop up potatoes, squash, onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables to carry down to the house for supper. I made a "goulash" as an elderly friend calls that type of a meal, from all that was in my apron.

The last generation of mountain women all wore aprons. Recently I inherited three of my mother-in-love's aprons as she cleaned out her home. She and many other ladies wore these aprons everyday as sort of a uniform. It was a mark of pride that they were wives, mothers, and homemakers.

I have fond memories of farmer Steve's Aunt Glen who took me under her wing and taught me many of the skills I needed to provide for my family...she cooked, sewed, canned, gardened, quilted, along with the many responsibilities of being a farmer's wife. I've stood by her side canning peaches...not just a few...but BUSHELS of peaches on steamy August afternoons. When the Preacher or a neighbor  stopped by for a minute on an unplanned visit she would quickly change her work apron as they got out of their cars, into one of her company aprons. Aunt Glenn then greeted her guest at the door looking fresh, and ready to entertain. Her days were filled with nonstop duties that ministered not only to her family, but to the widow down the road, friends who owned farms in other states, and of course the newest member of the family who knew nothing about rural farm life...ME! She "wore her apron WELL."

Where has the "uniform" of a homemaker gone? With the loss of the apron came a loss of pride in our"profession" or calling from the Lord. Society began to look down on the women who stayed at home to raise the children and provide a haven for their husbands. The highest calling for a woman is still her home. Charles Spurgeon once said,"You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God's fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts." Nothing is more important.

The many skills a homemaker possessed in the past two generations that generated the need for the apron are also now vanishing. I thank God a few women are once again raising the standard high for this generation of wives, mothers, and yes, proudly, homemakers to see. What the world has to offer in the areas of food, clothing, entertainment, education, and even worship cannot compare to the time intensive commitment of a woman serving her family "from scratch".

My aprons are getting a lot of use this week..I've just finished a HUGE batch of almond granola. By HUGE I mean it contained around 90 cups of dry ingredients. It takes me most of the day to bake it, so as it baked I made a double batch of jalapeno summer squash relish. This is the second time I've made it this summer, adjusting the heat level each time....this is hot. :) Adam is finally smiling! So today I've made 23 pints of relish and two big bus tubs of granola...a good day.

Tonight I served 5 vegetables, homemade pinto beans, and cornbread in pans I also inherited from my mother-in-love. The recipe for her truly southern pinto beans was in one of last year's issues of The Farmer's Wife. We are eating tomatoes three times a day...ahhhh...so I thought I'd include a few ideas for using your tomatoes and other vegetables this week.

Several of my tried and true recipes come from these older mountain women that are now in glory with our Saviour Jesus Christ. They've left a legacy behind for me to follow. They often used ingredients found in their cupboards. "Running to town" a half hour away was unheard of, as they often only went off the mountain to town weekly, if that. The fancy ingredients found in most recipes today would make them laugh, or ask, "What's that?!" Why not try this recipe for three of the vegetables in your shares this week. The buttered crackers were a treat and something new in the cupboard 30 years ago when I set up housekeeping...they often substituted buttered bread crumbs for the topping....you could too.


Baked Zucchini and Tomatoes
2 medium zucchini
2 medium fresh tomatoes
1 medium mild onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crushed, buttered broken cracker crumbs



Wash zucchini but do not peel. Peel tomatoes and onions. Slice all vegetables into thin crosswise slices.
In a greased baking dish make alternate layers of zucchini, tomatoes and onions, sprinkling each layer with a little salt and pepper, also dotting with butter.
Cover top with crushed cracker crumbs. Bake in a 350* oven until vegetables are tender.

As a young homemaker I was encouraged to experiment with what our garden was producing. I had my "postage stamp" sized garden compared to these old mountain women, and eventually added raised beds on top of the rock the Lord blessed us with at the time. I fell in love with gardening and how I was able to supplement our meager food budget. This recipe is one of my earliest experiments. It earned me a third place in the state of Tennessee Dairy Contest for homemakers! It makes a large dish, so simply halving the ingredients would fit the needs of an average family. Substitute what vegetables you have on hand and have fun experimenting yourself.


Garden Lasagna
4 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/8" slices
1 large onion, chopped in 1/4" pieces
1 medium green pepper, chopped in 1/4" pieces
1 carrot, scraped and diced in 1/4" pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T. butter
2 , 16 oz. cans tomatoes, drained well

(You could use chopped tomatoes here from your shares.)
1, 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 cup white grape juice (optional)
2 T. chopped parsley
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried whole basil
1/2 t. seasoning salt
1/4 t. "freshly" ground pepper
3 qts. water
2 t. salt
9 lasagna noodles
1, 16 oz. carton cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella 
1 C. grated Parmesan Cheese

Saute zucchini, onion, green pepper, carrot, and garlic in butter in a dutch oven over medium heat until  andante, 5 minutes or so. Stir in the next 9 ingredients. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes then uncover and simmer another 15 minutes until sauce "thickens" a bit, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is thickening, combine 3 quarts of water and salt in a pasta pot; bring to a boil. Gradually add lasagna noodles. Boil, uncovered, 12 to 15 minutes or until noodles are just tender; drain well.


Spread 1/4 of sauce in a lightly greased 12 x 9 x 2" baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1/3 cottage cheese, 1/4 Swiss/Mozzarella, and 1/4 of the parmesan cheese; repeat layers twice. Top with remaining sauce, Swiss, and parmesan cheese.


 Bake, uncovered at 350* for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

Yield: 8 servings.


I'd like to promote the cookbook we are selling to our shareholders this year. (We do not offer this great cookbook anymore you can buy it on Amazon at this link.) Last year it was my handbook for trying new recipes and I fell in love with it. The Practical Produce Cookbook is FULL of ideas from planting, cooking, to canning just about every vegetable we sell.  I think it only failed me once last year, and that was when we had a BUMPER CROP of Daikon radish to deal with and I had no idea how to use them. (After a bit of experimenting I figured it out. :) There are recipes for using vegetables in, desserts,  soups, salads, breads, and much more. I like a recipe book that calls for everyday ingredients and this is just like that. The Scripture on food and gardening is sprinkled throughout the pages is an encouragement to me when I was rushed to come up with a new way to use ...say zucchini...for the 10th week in a row. 

Do you need an easy supper tonight using what you all ready have in your cupboard and share in the fridge? Try this simple meal. (Nowadays I add Mexican spices to my meat such as Cumin, Garlic, Cayenne Pepper, Oregano, and Chili Powder. You could simply add a packet of taco seasoning for about the same taste.)


Stack Supper with Tomatoes

2 C. long grain white/brown rice

You can substitute broken/crushed tortilla chips for the rice.
1 head lettuce, chopped
3 lb. ground beef, browned
(this can be halved, and substitutions like turkey or chicken used)
2 C. chopped onion

1/4 C. flour
1/4 C. butter
1 qt. milk

Chopped Jalapenos (optional)
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese
taco sauce or salsa


Cook rice according to package instructions. (I use a rice cooker. A GREAT invention!) 

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the flour over it and stir well. Let the mixture bubble a bit as you stir it. Slowly whisk in the milk. When the sauce thickens, and is hot, stir in the cheese. Walla, a cheese sauce! (If your family likes spicy heat in their food, add chopped jalapenos with a bit of the juice from the jar to taste at this point.)

Layer cooked rice, browned and seasoned hamburger, chopped onion & green pepper, lettuce, and ending with cheese sauce. Serve with salsa or taco sauce. 

I like to have special meals every once in a while to encourage my men that work so hard on the farm. Here is one I'm going to try this week from the Practical Produce Cookbook that uses the fresh basil, tomatoes, and onions from our shares. It directs me to broil the fish, but I may try grilling or baking them as I have a CREW to feed and we've outgrown our broiler.


Tomatoes Stuffed Fish Fillets

1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped
1/4 C. finely chopped onion
1/4. t. basil leaves
1 1/2 lb. fresh fish fillets
(They suggest flounder or haddock but use what you have.)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine tomato, onion and basil; set aside/ Brush both sides of fillets with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Plae small amount of tomato mixture in center of each fillet. Overlap both ends of fillet over tomato; fasten with wooden picks. Arrange on broiler rack. Broil 3 inches from cources of heat, turning once and brushing with olive oil. Broil 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork but is still moist. 

Well, this post has taken a week to complete. My aprons have got a lot of use this week as I've canned, baked, gathered vegetables while gardening, and I even dried tears with it. I thank God for His direction in Titus chapter 2 to be a "keeper at home"...there is soooo much to "keep" in a family!
The Lord often gives me Scripture to encourage me in my calling. When my spirit lags He brings them back to my remembrance...one such verse is Proverbs 31:25...as I put my apron on I remember "Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come." 

As mothers we don't see the fruit of our labors immediately...just like in our fields. The harvest comes months, and with children even years later! The Holy Spirit is my strength in these times and I see my apron in the verse that says, "She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." Proverbs 31:17. By remembering my high calling as a wife and mother the Lord "strengthens my arms" to serve Him in my home. May He do the same for you!

 Is there an apron hanging in your kitchen? Why not put it on and let the Holy Spirit remind you where your strength comes from..."my strength cometh from the Lord." Then proudly go about your day renewed, and knowing you are in the perfect will of God serving your family.


Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife 

Val